Nebraska State Vet Issues Warning about Equine Herpes Virus

Dr. Dennis Hughes says horse owners need to be vigilant and use biosecurity measures.

Published on: Mar 26, 2013

Due to an increased number of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) cases across the nation, Nebraska State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes reminds the state's horse owners as well as operators of horse shows/exhibitions to remain vigilant and exercise biosecurity measures at all events where horses are co-mingled.

According to Hughes, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Tennessee and Utah currently are dealing with confirmed cases of EHV-1.

"Nebraska does not have horses diagnosed with the disease at this time, and we'd prefer to keep it that way," Hughes says. I encourage horse owners to take precautions to help prevent this disease from affecting our horse population."

Nebraska State Vet Issues Warning about Equine Herpes Virus
Nebraska State Vet Issues Warning about Equine Herpes Virus

He encourages all horse owners to follow biosecurity measures at their operations, including: require individuals to wash their hands before and after contact with each horse; if possible, avoid contact with other people's horses; disinfect boots and change clothes that come into contact with horses other than your own; and isolate horses returning from shows for 2 to 3 weeks.

"Owners who will be co-mingling their horses also should consider contacting their veterinarian to discuss their horses' current vaccination status and weigh the benefits of vaccinating their animals for EHV-1," says Hughes.

The disease is spread by direct or indirect contact with infected horses, so the Nebraska Department of Agriculture encourages operators of horse shows/exhibitions to review their biosecurity plans and minimize the opportunity for horses to have direct or indirect contact with each other. Indirect contact includes the use of shared water and feed sources as well as the use of shared equipment.

In addition, Hughes recommends that horse owners planning to travel to shows/exhibitions contact the venue prior to transporting their horses to inquire about entrance requirements for the event.

EHV-1 symptoms include fever, decreased coordination, nasal discharge, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, lethargy and the inability to rise. While there is no cure, the symptoms of the disease may be treatable.

Additional information about EHV-1 can be viewed at www.nda.nebraska.gov.